Calls to Reopen Schools to Face-to-Face Learning Due to CDC Research Ignores Everything That Research Says

 When the latest CDC research was release on January 26, 2021 in the JAMA article, “Data and Policy to Guide Opening Schools Safely to Limit the Spread of SARS-CoV-2 Infection,” calls to Reopen Schools has increased each day. But many of those state governors and politicians as well as others selectively read only a portion of the article that says:

“…there has been little evidence that schools have contributed meaningfully to increased community transmission.”

They read this statement and ignore other parts of the same article which also state that, 

“Preventing transmission in school settings will require addressing and reducing levels of transmission in the surrounding communities through policies that interrupt transmission (eg, restrictions on indoor dining at restaurants. In addition, all recommended mitigation measures in schools must continue: requiring universal mask use, increasing physical distance by dedensifying classrooms and common areas, using hybrid attendance models when needed to limit the total number of contacts and prevent crowding, increasing room air ventilation, and expanding screening testing to rapidly identify and isolate asymptomatic individuals. Staff and students should continue to have options for online education, particularly those at increased risk off severe illness or death if infected with SARS-CoV-2.”

So, yes there is little evidence of transmission within schools, but there are also some additional measures schools should take to keep that transmission low. They include, according to the CDC:

1) Limit and restrictions on establishments, such as restaurants and gyms, in the community that do increase transmission rates within the community. (This one is never mentioned by governors who declare we need to get students back in schools.)

2) Continue to require masks in schools by all individuals.

3) Dedensify classrooms, cafeterias, and other common areas. This means reducing the number of people in these spaces at one time so that social distance can be practiced.

4) Use hybrid models of attendance so that the number of students in the buildings and on buses are reduced to allow for distancing.

5) Increase ventilation in buildings.

6) Expand rapid testing ability so that asymptomatic individuals can be isolated quickly.

7) Reduce and postpone school activities such as athletics, assemblies, concerts, and other events that are social gatherings that increase the risk of transmission. 

The use of this article as a political sledgehammer to get schools reopened entirely is clearly underway. Yes, schools can reopen, but it is going to take the courage of our political leaders to make decisions that will perhaps restrict indoor dining and to provide schools with level of funding needed to dedensify education spaces too.